Rambus Patents are Invalidated, Chipmaker-Turned-Litigator is Left with Few Options
January 30, 2012 3:21 PM
comment(s) - last by
Loss of patents will likely lead to the collapse of suits against HP and NVIDIA
Rambus, Inc. (
) has been in dire straits in federal court. Now its situation has became a whole lot worse as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has invalidated three of the company's most critical patents.
I. The End?
From 2004 onwards Rambus had been enjoying fat royalties [
] from a host of top chipmakers. But since Nov. 2011 the company has suffered several key setbacks as companies like Micron Technology, Inc. (
) and Hynix Semiconductor Inc. (
) have challenged the legality of Rambus's patents and licensing demands. The biggest -- a
$4B USD loss
in its suit against Micron and Hynix -- sent Rambus shares plummeting.
An appeals board at the
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
ruled two key Rambus patents invalid in September. A third patent was ruled invalid in a new ruling that landed on Jan. 24.
first to discover
it, reporting on the issue this week.
The trio of patents were invalidated known as the "Barth patents", after their author, Rambus employee Richard Barth. The patents -- U.S. Patents
-- dealt with methods for sending data to memory on a personal computer device.
Rambus traditionally used the three patents among its six core patents in its litigious efforts.
The options for Rambus in terms of overturning the invalidation are scant. An appeal would go back to the original reviewer, who would be unlikely to wish to overturn the ruling of the higher board, according to Scott Daniels, a partner in the law firm Westerman, Hattori, Daniels and Adrian, LLP.
The decision is a victory for NVIDIA Corp. (
) who initially requested the review. Rambus has been filing both federal court civil suits against NVIDIA alleging billions in infringement losses, and filing complaints with the
U.S. International Trade Commission
looking to block the import of NVIDIA chips into the U.S. on copyright infringement grounds.
The ruling is a victory for NVIDIA (CEO Jen-Hsun Huang pictured) who requested the review. [Image Source: WebOS Nation]
Hewlett-Packard Comp. (
world's largest personal computer manufacturer
(excluding tablets) is also among Rambus's victims.
II. A Cautionary Tale
The decision, should it stand, calls into question a whole slew of Rambus victories both in court and in licensing agreements. With Rambus down to three important patents in hand, its leverage is severely reduced. Rambus shares are down 15 percent since the ruling landed, and are likely to fall further as the fallout in terms of settlements begins.
Rambus still holds 1,000 patents, but it's increasingly looking more like an acquisitions target than a viable firm.
The Rambus case is an unfortunate one, in which Rambus did once have some legitimately good ideas and produce useful products. This outcome serves as a reminder to litigious companies like Microsoft Corp. (
], Apple, Inc. (
], and Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (
] of the dangers of pushing the patent system and litigation too far. Ultimately Rambus didn't have the rich commercial history of any of the aforementioned firms in terms of putting out useful consumer and business products.
Rambus was once a proud innovator, but turned to litigation amid market failure.
[Image Source: Hector Mata/Bloomberg]
It's easy to write off Rambus as just another "patent troll", but unlike ex-Microsoft CEO Nathan Myhrvold's Intellectual Ventures , Rambus was once a legitimate technology producer. In that regards it is
similar to NTP
-- another former innovator turned mass-litigator.
Regardless, history aside, it appears that the curtain has fallen on Rambus's days of success in federal court. And experts are cheering that as a victory for the consumer and for shareholders in chipmaking firms.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: I hate rambus
1/30/2012 11:44:03 PM
Yes, as did the PS2. As I recall, eliminating the PS2 EmotionEngine (CPU) and RAMBUS memory from later models of PS3 only provided significant savings over the 20GB and 60GB NTSC models because of the RAMBUS memory. Basically, the 80GB partial BC and 60GB PAL consoles still had a GraphicsSynthesizer (GPU) from a PS2 even though the PS2 had long had the EE+GS combined on a single chip. It doesn't make sense to produce a GS for the PS3 while still producing an EE+GS for PS2 consoles unless the dedicated memory eliminated with the EE was a significant cost (emulated EE with the Cell and system memory).
"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken
Samsung is Virtually Tied With Apple, Sells 36.5M Smartphones in Q4
January 27, 2012, 10:29 AM
Dutch Court Slaps Apple With Another Loss in its Anti-Android Crusade
January 24, 2012, 7:46 AM
Samsung Loses 3G Patent Case Against Apple in Germany
January 20, 2012, 8:42 AM
Australian Court Silences Apple's Cries, Allows Samsung Tablet to Launch
December 9, 2011, 1:18 PM
Apple's Legal Crusade Against Android Dealt Blow in U.S. Federal Court
December 3, 2011, 6:53 PM
SanDisk Unveils Pricey iXpand USB 2.0/Lightning Drive to Expand iPhone, iPad Storage
November 13, 2014, 2:29 PM
HP's 15.6" Omen Gaming Laptop is Incredibly Thin, Powerful
November 4, 2014, 10:34 AM
Tim Cook Touts Apple’s Product Portfolio, Performance in Letter to Employees
October 21, 2014, 8:05 AM
Lenovo Once Again The Top Global PC Maker, Apple Takes 50% of PC Profits
October 9, 2014, 7:46 AM
It’s Official: HP to Split Into Two Business Units
October 6, 2014, 8:14 AM
Quick Note: HP Plans to Split PC, Enterprise Units
October 5, 2014, 4:31 PM
Most Popular Articles
BlackBerry Classic Sells Out Online (Seriously, It Has) for North America
December 15, 2014, 7:07 PM
After Coming So Close to Recovering, Northern White Rhino is Nearly Extinct
December 15, 2014, 11:30 AM
Peter Sunde is Sickened by Today's Pirate Bay, Say Internet Activism is Dying
December 15, 2014, 6:02 AM
Paramount Bans Team America Screenings, Cowers Submissively to North Korea
December 18, 2014, 10:26 PM
Apple Abandons Russia; Ruinous Ruble Run Sees 25% Inflation in a Single Day
December 16, 2014, 5:40 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information